ICE director general Tom Foulkes reiterated the importance of maintaining and improving our infrastructure in the face of the changing world last week at a University College of London research seminar.
The seminar, Managing Change in the Built Environment in a New Era – Needs, Approaches, People, was part of a programme of work aimed at engaging the industry on how the built environment professions will need to adapt to meet the challenges of the future.
Foulkes warned that underinvestment has left the UK with a number of problems.
“The idea of national infrastructure as a problem and an opportunity is gaining increasing political and public traction. On the economic side, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s last biennial survey noted that historic underinvestment is a key factor holding back productivity growth. Outside of the economic sphere it’s clear national infrastructure will be central to meeting our ambitious climate change targets”, he said.
He also stressed that because of a lack of capacity, resilience, flexibility to change and visibility to investors in terms of future plans, the UK’s current approach to infrastructure development is failing to meet demands.
“An approach, based around a strategic development framework for infrastructure, could address many of the causes of this failure. We should be able to put in place a structured way of developing and maintaining the key physical enablers of our economic progress and quality of life,” he said.